Friday, June 22, 2012

All Lights On The Hirshhorn

The show at the Hirshhorn must be popular. Scheduled to end May 13, it is still on and brings crowds the day of my visit. Suprasensorial: Experiments in Light, Color and Space is spread throughout the museum. Starting on the top floor, a huge neon sculpture from  Lucio Fontana hangs above the escalator like a shining message drawn by the wand of a magician. Unfortunately, the ceiling is too low, and the lines from the beams intercept the sensuous curves. I turn around, try another spot, to no avail, the intrusive background spoils the magic scribble. The sculpture was first shown at the Milan Triennial in1951 displayed in a more appropriate setting, the grand staircase of a contemporary art gallery.

A walk through Jesús Rafael Soto's Blue Penetrable BBL is another experience, visual as well as tactile. The blue nylon strings shiver and whisper, disturbed by the visitor who emerges on the other side, from the sea? the sky? a forest?  The intense blue falls and fades on the floor.

Painful auditory stimuli come from a tent-like structure and people walk out with glazed eyes, shaking their heads. A quick look reveals cushions on the floor, a dark space with giant images projected on the wall... my ears cannot take the cacophony and I walk by Cosmococa No. 1: Trahiscapes from  Hélio Oiticica.

Carlos Cruz-Diez shares an enchanted world in Chromosaturation, a work full of adventures in color. The immaculate space feels like a surgical suite ( the visitor has to wear shoe covers to preserve the spotless floor). Bubblegum green, red, blue, orange, mauve, pink... reflect on the walls, ceilings, floors, define sharp angles and lines and fade as the visitor walks through the three rooms. One feels like breathing, bathing in color, possessed by an urge to grab a handful of green, yellow, orange, but it is already gone, a fleeting illusion. The artist created a fifth element: color and provides a path from the material to the immaterial.

In contrast, Light in Movement from Julio Le Parc is black and white. In a dark room, mirrors and spotlights produce animated shadows on the wall. The speed of the images combined with the rotation disorients the visitor and creates a dizzying effect.
The exhibition ( minus the pool, MOCA in 2010) requires a direct interaction between visitors and works. The artists have reached their goals. 

photographs by the author:
"Neon Structure for the IX Triennial of Milan", 1951, Lucio Fontana
""Blue Penetrable BBL", 1999, Jesús Rafael Soto
"Chromosaturation", 1965, Carlos Cruz-Diez

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